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The Edge of Politics


Justice Antonin Scalia of the United States Supreme Court died over the weekend at the age of 79. His death was sudden. Reactions have been swift. Many people I know were not fans, and have made their dislike of the deceased perfectly clear. I have refrained from writing about it until now, though I did express some thoughts while in the car with Ashley that I now regret. Finally, I began to read some positive thoughts about the man from a smattering of social media friends and even uber-liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Honestly, such reading provided some comfort.

Politics -- and make no mistake, the U.S. Supreme Court is a political body -- has been depressing of late. Whether it's Donald Trump or Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz, Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton or Debbie Wasserman Schultz, or a bevy of Republican or Democratic in-fighting, tensions are high and manners have gone out the window. Justice Scalia, himself, often added to the fire with his blustery espousal of opinions. Even at a local level, politics can sometime evoke bitterness and personal attacks. It's a mug's game, not for the faint-hearted.

This is why I felt so relieved by Justice Ginsburg's remembrance of her colleague. It is a reminder of one of the most crucial aspects of the political playing field, and that is we are all human. We're all trying to do the best we can (some perhaps better than others). And with the recent revelation that Scalia was pulling for the nomination of liberal Justice Elena Kagan, we are reminded that the man -- like many people -- was more complex than we thought. Not that there should be any doubt: Scalia did not agree with Kagan on much, but he knew the realities of the nomination process under a Democratic president, and so wanted the best under that scenario. He got it.

That's the thing about politics: It's not a death match. Or, at least, it shouldn't be. The reason I'm drawn to politics is because I look upon it as a tool for getting things done. That requires working together, and not always with people who agree with us. It's about respecting others, not in spite of our differences, but because of our differences. It's about finding the humanity in everyone, whenever possible. This is how we live. This is how we survive. This is how we get things done. I'm not saying we shouldn't fight for what we believe in. But understand that others are, as well. And that we're not all going to think and feel the same. Attempting to understand someone else's point of view may even help bring them around to your own.

To be clear: Antonin Scalia often acted like a jerk. He didn't sugar coat his opinions. I rarely, if ever, agreed with the man. But I can respect that he was extremely intelligent, and took his job with the utmost seriousness. He leaves behind a family and friends that mourn his passing. And while it would be easy to say, "Yes, but..." in regards to showing him no respect in his passing, given the lack of respect he often showed others in his rulings, what would that achieve? After all, it says nothing about our character or integrity if we're only nice toward those with whom we agree.

A lot of my lefty friends like to talk about how minorities are often dehumanized. That's fair. It definitely occurs far too often. But then it's good to remember that when it comes to those whose ideologies are not our own. It's useful to demonize an opponent. It helps us to hate them better. If hate is what we want, then by all means: choose that path. Personally, I think life's too short -- and important -- for that. Let's practice some of what we preach and try to see the humanity in those we disagree with. Our politics could sure stand to benefit from it.


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